Epiglottopexy for refractory obstructive sleep apnea in children – A single-institution experience

Inbal Hazkani*, Eli Stein, Saied Ghadersohi, Jonathan Ida, Dana M. Thompson, Taher Valika

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Refractory obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common condition in children with medical comorbidities, leading to a significant impact on quality of life. Drug-induced sleep endoscopy (DISE) has become the standard of care in identifying the levels of obstruction in children with refractory OSA. Epiglottopexy has been shown to improve OSA symptoms in adults and healthy children with epiglottic prolapse in a few studies, with minimal long-term complications. The objective of our study was to evaluate the role of epiglottopexy in children with refractory OSA. Methods: A retrospective chart review of children with refractory OSA who were found to have epiglottic prolapse on DISE, and underwent epiglottopexy between January 2018 and November 2021 at a pediatric tertiary care hospital. Results: 42 patients (age 8.1 ± 5.1 years) met inclusion criteria. Thirty patients (71.4 %) suffered from neurodevelopmental disease or congenital syndrome, and 14 patients (33.3 %) were gastrostomy-tube dependent. All patients had at least one prior surgical procedure to address their OSA. Thirty-six patients (85.7 %) were diagnosed with refractory OSA by polysomnography prior to surgery, with an average apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) of 12.4 ± 9.7/h. Forty patients (95.2 %) required an additional procedure in conjunction with epiglottopexy including lingual tonsillectomy (n = 27, 64.3 %), supraglottoplasty (n = 14, 33.3 %), tonsillectomy with or without revision adenoidectomy (n = 9, 21.4 %) and tongue base suspension (n = 1, 2.4 %). Twenty-one patients had repeated polysomnography; 4 patients were found to have residual severe OSA post-operatively (average AHI 17.4 ± 11.4/h), while the remaining patients demonstrated clinical improvement and a significant reduction in OSA severity, with an average AHI of 1.5 ± 2.2/h. Regression analysis identified pre-operative oxygen nadir <75 % to be associated with residual OSA postoperatively. Following surgery, 7 patients were found to have new-onset or worsening dysphagia, 6 of whom were diagnosed with complex medical comorbidities. Conclusions: Epiglottopexy, as part of multi-level airway surgery, is associated with a significant improvement in the severity of refractory OSA. Dysphagia may complicate the post-operative course, particularly in children with medical comorbidities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103798
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023


  • Dysphagia
  • Epiglottopexy
  • Lingual tonsillectomy
  • Residual obstructive sleep apnea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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